Poster Title

Another Hollywood Scandal: Judgments about Sexual Assault Accusations amongst Celebrities

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Psychological

Minor

Management

Institution

Northern Kentucky University

KY House District #

68

KY Senate District #

24

Department

Psychology Department

Abstract

Recent scandals in Hollywood have brought the topic of sexual assault to the forefront of public discussion. Although research has been conducted on victim credibility (e.g., Fahmy, Snook, Luther, & McCardle, 2018), the effect of celebrity status on victim credibility has rarely been studied. We predicted that, because celebrities are in positions of power, they would be considered less credible in sexual assault scenarios.

In experiment 1, 91 (76 women, 13 men, 2 other) participants read eight fictitious heterosexual sexual assault scenarios that varied the sex of the accused, the intoxication of those involved, and the relative celebrity status of the scenario's characters. Participants indicated how much they believed accusers (vs. the accused) on 9-point scales. In experiment 2, 54 (46 women, 7 men, 1 other) participants read eight scenarios that varied the sex of the accused, celebrity status, and the excuse given by the alleged perpetrator (the accuser consented vs. a counter-accusation of assault).

For experiment 1, a 2(Sex of accused: Male,Female) X 2(Intoxication: Accused,Accuser) X 2(Celebrity status: Accused,Accuser) within-subjects ANOVA revealed an effect of target sex, F(1,90)=9.38, p=.003, hp2=.094; female accusers were considered more credible (M=2.95) than were male accusers (M=3.34), and an effect of intoxication, F(1,90)=22.10, p=.001, hp2=.197; accusers were considered less credible when they were intoxicated (M=3.76) than when the accused was intoxicated (M=2.52). However, no celebrity status effect was found, F<1. For experiment 2, a 2(Sex of accused: Male,Female) X 2(Celebrity status: Accused,Accuser) X 2(Excuse of alleged perpetrator: Consent,Counter-accusation) within-subjects ANOVA revealed an effect of target sex, F(1,53)=4.26, p=.044, hp2=.074; female accusers were considered more credible (M=4.49) than were male accusers (M=4.76), and an effect of excuse, F(1,53)=8.98, p=.004, hp2=.145; accusers were considered more credible when the accused claimed consent (M=4.31) than when the accused made a counter-claim of assault (M=4.94). However, no celebrity status effect was found, F<1.

Both studies found that female accusers were seen as more credible than male accusers. Experiment 1 found that accusers were seen as less credible when intoxicated than when the accused was intoxicated. Experiment 2 found that accusers were seen as more credible when the accused claimed consent than when the accused made a counter-claim of assault. However, no effect of celebrity status was found in either study. It might be that our manipulation of celebrity status did not sufficiently suggest a power dynamic.

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Another Hollywood Scandal: Judgments about Sexual Assault Accusations amongst Celebrities

Recent scandals in Hollywood have brought the topic of sexual assault to the forefront of public discussion. Although research has been conducted on victim credibility (e.g., Fahmy, Snook, Luther, & McCardle, 2018), the effect of celebrity status on victim credibility has rarely been studied. We predicted that, because celebrities are in positions of power, they would be considered less credible in sexual assault scenarios.

In experiment 1, 91 (76 women, 13 men, 2 other) participants read eight fictitious heterosexual sexual assault scenarios that varied the sex of the accused, the intoxication of those involved, and the relative celebrity status of the scenario's characters. Participants indicated how much they believed accusers (vs. the accused) on 9-point scales. In experiment 2, 54 (46 women, 7 men, 1 other) participants read eight scenarios that varied the sex of the accused, celebrity status, and the excuse given by the alleged perpetrator (the accuser consented vs. a counter-accusation of assault).

For experiment 1, a 2(Sex of accused: Male,Female) X 2(Intoxication: Accused,Accuser) X 2(Celebrity status: Accused,Accuser) within-subjects ANOVA revealed an effect of target sex, F(1,90)=9.38, p=.003, hp2=.094; female accusers were considered more credible (M=2.95) than were male accusers (M=3.34), and an effect of intoxication, F(1,90)=22.10, p=.001, hp2=.197; accusers were considered less credible when they were intoxicated (M=3.76) than when the accused was intoxicated (M=2.52). However, no celebrity status effect was found, F<1. For experiment 2, a 2(Sex of accused: Male,Female) X 2(Celebrity status: Accused,Accuser) X 2(Excuse of alleged perpetrator: Consent,Counter-accusation) within-subjects ANOVA revealed an effect of target sex, F(1,53)=4.26, p=.044, hp2=.074; female accusers were considered more credible (M=4.49) than were male accusers (M=4.76), and an effect of excuse, F(1,53)=8.98, p=.004, hp2=.145; accusers were considered more credible when the accused claimed consent (M=4.31) than when the accused made a counter-claim of assault (M=4.94). However, no celebrity status effect was found, F<1.

Both studies found that female accusers were seen as more credible than male accusers. Experiment 1 found that accusers were seen as less credible when intoxicated than when the accused was intoxicated. Experiment 2 found that accusers were seen as more credible when the accused claimed consent than when the accused made a counter-claim of assault. However, no effect of celebrity status was found in either study. It might be that our manipulation of celebrity status did not sufficiently suggest a power dynamic.